Monthly Archives: January 2008

I just ran across this. Some how I think that it probably made God laugh to.

Embracing Grace – Introduction

 My wife and I just started reading Embracing Grace by Scot McKnight. I’m going to try my hand at blogging through the book. My first impressions of the book are very good. The book is about the Gospel. In the book McKnight is attempting to present the full Gospel, a Gospel that goes beyond just- Jesus died for my sins, so that I can be forgiven and go to heaven some day.

In the introduction McKnight gives the following simple definition of the Gospel:

The Gospel is the work of God to restore humans to union with God and communion with others, in the context of a community, for the good of others and the world

I like this definition of the Gospel, it makes the Gospel about much more than ME, and the forgiveness of MY personal sins. It takes the focus of myself, and places it on others. During his earthly ministry Jesus, over and over again encouraged his followers to put others first, to live sacrificially, to take up our cross and follow him.

 Scott McKnight spoke to small group leaders at Northpoint Community Church, on the topic of the Gospel and Embracing Grace. He talks about the individualist Gospel that we have been taught and say

The Gospel we preach is deconstructing the Church

You can hear the whole talk Here. I highly recomend it.

What do you think about McKnight’s definition of the Gospel?

Would you add anything to it?

What do you think about his statement that the Gospel we preach is deconstructing the Church?

A Song you won’t hear in church

Kid Rock has a great new song that you will probably never hear in church.

Why do you think most churches would never sing this song?

My wife says its because its to honest.

Once Again

Alan Knox over at Assembling of the Church wrote a thought-provoking and challenging post entitled Wont Get Fooled Again. Judging from the comments this post has resonated, not just with me, but with many. Alan starts off his post with the statement “Once upon a time God used a donkey” What I take from the post is this. God had a plan for the world, for his people, and we came in with our programs, institution, budget meetings, building committees and messed it all up.

This post is prompted by Alan’s post and is written….

For those of us whose heart breaks when we see a big beautiful church with all its programs sitting right across the street from a rundown trailer court in the grips of the Enemy

For those of us who believe that Communion can happen around a table in an ordinary home or dare I say even in a pub. Who believe it doesn’t have to be given to us by a priest or ordained minister

For those of us who believe that corporate worship doesn’t have to take place in the church.

For those of us who don’t believe that God commands us to give 10% to our local church or be cursed.

For those of us who believe building relationships with those around us is more important than building bigger buildings.

For those of us who don’t believe God is a republican (or a democrat)

For those of us who feel closer to God when we are in the community serving others than when we are sitting in the pew.

For those of us who believe God wants us to bring the gospel to lost and not wait for them to come to us

I  Say Once Again…

Once again Gods people will turn the world upside down

Once again we will live radical lives in the midst of the world

Once again our light will shine on the streets, not be hidden behind church walls

Once again we will love those around us without an agenda, but just because God loves them

Once again we will eat with drunks, and prostitutes, thieves, and beggars

Once again we will gather in the streets, in homes, in valleys and mountains

Once again we will drop everything and follow Him

Once again we will put or trust in Him, not in your Christian celebrities

Once again we will live transformed lives in the midst of the culture

Once again we will realize that God does not live in temples built by Human hands… that he desires worshipers who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. Everywhere, at all the time.

Please feel free to fill in the blank. Once again…

Contentment on the Streets

 I sat down and grabbed my laptop to find the perfect 42″ flat screen 1080P HDTV to replace my old 27″ TV when I ran across a post by Jonathan Brink entitled Perspective on my stuff.

Jonathan ends the post with this “Because a chair is simply a chair isn’t it? But when I don’t have a chair and I need one, everything looks good. But when I have several chairs, only the cherry stained one’s from Pottery Barn will do.”

I started asking myself … At what times in my life have I been the most content with the amount of my material possessions? The surprising answer is when I had the least. Also I don’t think it is coincidental that those were also the times I had the least amount of media exposure.

In 1995 I set out for California with a couple bags and a big cardboard box full of stuff, with in a couple of months I ended up on the streets of San Jose with nothing more than the clothes on my back.  I won’t go into detail about all the weird and drug soaked circumstances that led me there, but eventually I ended up in the Haight Asbury district of San Francisco surrounded by a community of other people who had as little as I did.

Over the next few months I hitch hiked up and down the coast, and all the way over to New Mexico for the Rainbow Gathering, then back to California. I lost the little bit of stuff I had more than once, and rarely had more than five dollars in my pocket. Yet I was content The funny thing is that during the time of my life that I had the least not only was I the most content with what I had. I was the most generous.

Rarely was a sandwich eaten that wasn’t shared, If we only had one cigarette it was passed around no matter how many of us there was. If you had two shirts and your brother or sister had none, you would give them one of yours. If some one was in need of food more than you, you gave up your share with out a thought. It just struck me that it was a lot like the early church. (If you leave out all the drugs, tie-dyes, and dreadlocks)

Another thing about my time on the road is that I rarely watched television or listened to the radio. I wasn’t bombarded with images & voices telling me that if I wanted to be happy, I need to buy what they had to sell. Even when I did watch TV, the barrage of ads didn’t persuade me because I had a community of people around me who valued me, not because of what I owned, but as a fellow human being, and sojourner.

Why is it that the people I knew on the road were less materialistic, more generous and content than your average middle class Christian?

What can the church do to create a sense of community similar to the one I experienced on the road?

Thoughts??

Father, help me to realize that my value is not found in what I have, but in my identity as a child loved by you. Help me to be less materialistic, and held me to be more generous with what you have blessed me with, not just my finances, but with my every fiber of my being. Help me to remember that I don’t need a flat screen TV, when millions will go to sleep this night with empty stomachs. Help me to care less about my own needs. Give me a heart that cares for the needs of others.  AMEN

Yet Another Voice of Frustration

Adam over at Becoming God’s Samurai echos the frustration that a growing number of people including my self are feeling with the Institutional Church.

 The following paragraph from his post really resonates with me

The Distance – the word “fellowship” is one that is only ever used in Christian circles (and the lord of the rings). I’ve come to conclude that it is code for “making us look like we have a more meaningful relationship than we actually do”. From the moment I walk into church I am handed a newsletter from a woman with such a grin she looks like she is meeting an old friend. I can’t even remember her name. Over biscuits and coffee I people (who I hadn’t seen since the previous service) ask me, “how are you?” but they don’t really care, so I reply, “fine” because I don’t really care either. We stand in pews looking at the back of each other’s heads, only hearing what the people on the stage have to say rather than what the heart of the person next to me is wishing to scream. And in the end we depart for another week, each of us feeling complacent with the “fellowship” but none of us having actually given anything.

Adam doesn’t post very often but his posts are always very profound.

Thoughts on Tithing

 My wife and I received our annual tithing statement from our church the other day. The amount was admittedly much less than it should be, and we were convicted of our need to give more. Accompanying the report was also a generic form letter that challenged us to give more, parts of the letter didn’t sit well with us. I want to share a couple of paragraphs from the letter and some thoughts on the parts that bothered us. ( I wonder if they send out 2 letters- One to those who give 10% and another one to those who don’t??)

Along with my thanks and encouragement I would also like to challenge you. As Christian we are commanded to bring our tithe into the storehouse. The Church you attend is a your storehouse and you tithe is 10% of your first fruits or income. Many times I will hear people say “I’m just not sure what God wants or expects from me” In the principle of tithing God makes it very clear, your tithe is 10% and he wants it given tp the place where you worship.

At the bottom of your tithing statement you will see a total amount. This represents all the monies you have given towards General giving, building funds, missions, etc. When you receive your W-2 you will also see a box that says total wages. If your total is not 10% of the amount then your giving is not at the level the Lord commands. If this is the case then I ask that you make it a matter of prayer and fulfill what the lord mandates in His Word.

What happened to being under grace and not under the law?

Malachi 3 is often given as the proof that God commands us to give 10% to our church. There are a couple of problems with that. Malachi was written to those who were under the law, and if I am reading the passage in it’s proper context the passage seems to be speaking directly to the Jewish priests.

Malachi 3:10 also says “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.”

It seems that the purpose of the tithe in question was to distribute food to the needy. Some of my growing frustration with the institutional church may be coming out here but if I were to give 10% of my income to the church. How much would go directly to providing for the needy in our community? or to bringing the Gospel directly to those on the outside? And how much would go to pay mortgage on the building, utility bills, maintenance of the building and grounds, internal programs, and supplies, etc?

I want to say clearly that I see nothing wrong with giving 10% directly to the church if that is how the Lord leads you. However I do believe to say that if someone isn’t giving 10% directly to their church they are not giving as the Lord Commands is legalism at its worst.

I don’t think that God is as concerned with the exact percentage of our income that we give as much as He is as the condition of heart as we give. I do believe that he wants us to give generously, not out of fear of being cursed, or because we are supposed to. God wants us to give out of love for him and love for those around us.

I also believe that God doesn’t just want 10% of our income. He wants us to give 100% of ourselves to Him and to those around us.

What do you think?

Does God command us to give 10%

Should a persons tithe be given only to the church?